Mohammed Emwazi: Family of man named as 'Jihadi John' described by neighbours as 'normal Muslim family'

Isis militant suspected of beheading UK and US hostages was identified in reports today as computer programming graduate Mohammed Emwazi

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The Independent Online

The family of the man named in reports as Jihadi John have been described as a "normal Muslim family" and "quiet" by neighbours.

The Isis militant suspected of beheading UK and US hostages was identified by The Washington Post today as computer programming graduate Mohammed Emwazi, from London.

Radicalisation experts have said they believed the identity of the militant to be "accurate and correct".

Neighbours today told The Independent the family were a "normal Muslim family". One local resident, who did not want to be named, said that they were "quiet" and had not been seen for "several days". Khosru Khan, 32, a worshipper at the local mosque, said: "It's a mystery to us who he is, a mystery to the whole world. It's shocking that he is local to here, but he's never prayed in this mosque. We don't know him.

"Muslims are being demonised all the world over, so we expect to see it here. He seems to be the demonised bogeyman for political purposes."

Speaking outside the home a local man, who did not want to be named, said: "I didn't know him. Everybody in Islam agrees that murder is wrong... But this generation is changing, the world is changing.

"People think that a lot of what's being said about Iraq and Syria about burning people and beheadings is questionable.

"Is it made up? Really we don't know this guy or if anything is true."

A neighbour outside a separate property, where Emwazi was believed to have lived while studying at university, said she "knew" the family.

She said: "I'm completely shocked. When I knew him he was a quiet boy. I've looked at the videos and honestly I can't tell if it is really him. I couldn't believe the horrible things they say he's done. They were a normal family."

According to the lengthy Washington Post report, Kuwaiti-born Emwazi travelled to Syria in around 2012 before later joining Isis.

The article claims he started to become radicalised after a planned safari trip in Tanzania was brought to an abrupt end when he was detained on arrival in Dar es Salaam and deported the following day.

According to The Post, Emwazi is from an affluent family in west London and graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming.

A spokesperson for the University of Westminster confirmed that Emwazi left the University six years ago. It said that if the allegations are true, it is "shocked and sickened by the news".

"Our thoughts are with the victims and their families", the spokesperson said. "We have students from 150 countries and their safety is of paramount concern. With other universities in London, we are working to implement the Government’s Prevent strategy to tackle extremism."

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King's College London has said: "We believe the identity and name published by the Washington Post and now in the public realm to be accurate and correct."

In a statement, the ICSR went on to say Jihadi John "is not special in the sense that all the foreign fighters have tried to hide their identity by using pseudonyms or literally by masking themselves.

Emwazi studied computer programming at the University of Westminster in London

"The fact that 'Jihadi John' has been unveiled in this manner demonstrates that whatever efforts are made, the ability to mask one's identity is limited or in fact impossible, and their true identities will eventually be revealed.

"This demonstrates what we have long said about radicalisation, that it is not something driven by poverty or social deprivation. Ideology clearly plays a big role in motivating some men to participate in jihadist causes.

"British fighters have clearly demonstrated that they are not in this conflict to take a back seat. They are full participants in this war, operating as suicide bombers, hostage takers, and executioners."

Scotland Yard has refused to confirm the reports.

Commander Richard Walton, head of the Met's counter terrorism command, said: "We have previously asked media outlets not to speculate about the details of our investigation on the basis that life is at risk.

"We are not going to confirm the identity of anyone at this stage or give an update on the progress of this live counter-terrorism investigation."

Downing Street meanwhile has declined to deny or confirm the name reported by media had been known to the intelligence and security services.

Asked if David Cameron was concerned about the name being reported, a No 10 spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister would be concerned about information being put into the public domain at any time that might jeopardise ongoing police or security investigations or the safety of British citizens.

"There is an ongoing investigation. It is absolutely right that we allow the police and security agencies to do all they can to bring those responsible to justice and to help keep British people safe."

Additional reporting by PA